The Arizona Diamondbacks went out and got Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. The Chicago Cubs signed Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. The San Francisco Giants signed Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. The Los Angeles Dodgers have done what exactly?
Well, it depends on who you ask.
My guess is if you asked the front office, they’d tell you about the new outfielder who ranks among the best in the league and the shortstop who they expect to become an All-Star (and quickly).
There’s also a catcher whose combination of offense and defense could make him “elite” and the center fielder whose potential as a five-tool player might have him on the cusp of stardom.
Of course, while none of those players were signed this offseason, their emergence from within doesn’t make them any less “new” in 2016.
Compared to 2015, the Dodgers believe they’re adding a healthy Yasiel Puig, a now-prepared Corey Seager, a (fully) healthy Yasmani Grandal and a (hopefully) more confident Joc Pederson.
Puig played in just 79 games last season and Seager in 27, while Grandal played through a shoulder injury during the second half and Pederson felt the pains of a rookie slump.
Now, of course, none of this is a guarantee. But, nor is “winning the offseason” through trades and signings. One can hope that Puig returns to 2013 and 2014 form, but you can’t ignore his poor performance (when he did play) in 2015.
Likewise with Pederson — he was brilliant in the first half of last season (20 home runs, .364 on-base percentage), but dreadful in the second half (six home runs, .317 OBP). So is it reasonable to expect the first half to be sustainable? Maybe, maybe not.
But what is clear is these are the questions that will determine the success of the Dodgers in 2016. With everything clicking, this team is already built in a way that makes reaching the playoffs fully within reason.
The pitching staff has taken a major hit in losing Greinke, but Hisashi Iwakuma is a good piece and a full season of Alex Wood is an upgrade over last season’s rotating door as well.
An interesting possibility to question, however, is the development of top prospects Jharel Cotton, Jose De Leon and Julio Urias. Is it possible that one, two or even all three of them will factor into the plans this season?
Obviously, they impacted the long-term decisions as it relates to signing pitchers this offseason, but is there a chance they’re already on the cusp of being ready?
Offensively, a lineup that features Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, Grandal, Pederson, Puig, Seager and Justin Turner among others will be improved. In fact, it can be argued the group may be one of the better lineups in the league.
Include Kiké Hernandez, Jose Peraza, Chase Utley, Scott Van Slyke and others on the bench, and it’s clear that offense shouldn’t be the issue.
Likewise, as previously analyzed and discussed, the Dodgers’ bullpen will be improved as the likes of Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia and Chris Hatcher continue to develop.
So yes, the offseason hasn’t been as exciting as many fans would have liked, but it should be noted the Dodgers’ roster isn’t deprived of talent. Last season, the hopes and dreams rested on the wings of trades, signings and acquisitions.
This year, they rest on the shoulders of players already in the organization. It may not be the sexy way to build a team, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be successful.